Suf­fer from headaches, blurred vi­sion and tin­gling in ear?

The Citizen-Record (Cumberland) - - HEALTH - Dr. Gif­ford Jones The Doc­tor Game

A friend re­cently asked “Giff, what’s hap­pened? You’ve lost weight.”

He was wrong, as my weight has re­mained the same for years. But this is not the first time this has hap­pened. It’s be­cause I’ve never liked dress shirts with tight col­lars. Loose col­lars ex­pos­ing the neck con­vey the im­pres­sion of weight loss. But sur­prise: they also help to pro­tect wear­ers from glau­coma, the sec­ond-lead­ing cause of blind­ness in North Amer­ica.

While a stu­dent at the Har­vard Med­i­cal School, I heard this story. A 55-year-old busi­ness­man com­plained of headaches, blurred vi­sion and a tin­gling sen­sa­tion in the right ear.

Har­vard pro­fes­sors were not able to make a di­ag­no­sis. So he con­sulted doc­tors at The Mayo Clinic and fa­mous Har­ley Street doc­tors in Lon­don, Eng­land. None could di­ag­nose his prob­lem.

Years later, he was at a con­ven­tion in At­lantic City. He needed a new shirt and walked into an un­re­mark­able store and asked for a size 15. A young sales­man sug­gested a size 16. Ir­ri­tated, the man replied, “I’ve been buy­ing shirts since you were in knee pants, and I want a size 15.” The sales­man replied, “That’s fine with me, sir, if you want to suf­fer from headaches, blurred vi­sion and a tin­gling sen­sa­tion in your right ear!”

Tight col­lars are not hard to find if you watch tele­vi­sion. The ones I of­ten see are on over­weight males whose necks are bulging out over their col­lars, and they look aw­fully un­com­fort­able. Snug­ness, whether in woman’s stock­ings or men’s shirts, is not a healthy habit.

A study in the Bri­tish Med­i­cal Jour­nal of Oph­thal­mol­ogy states that tight neck­ties in­crease the risk of glau­coma. Dr. Robert Ritch of the New York Eye and Ear In­fir­mary sev­eral years ago agreed. He stated that tight neck­ties con­stantly press­ing on the jugu­lar vein in­crease in­traoc­u­lar pres­sure (IOP) which is one of the risk fac­tors of glau­coma as this con­tin­ual pres­sure de­stroys the op­tic nerve.

Other eye spe­cial­ists point out that a false di­ag­no­sis of glau­coma can be made if a tight neck­tie is worn dur­ing an eye ex­am­i­na­tion.

But how many men wear shirts with tight neck col­lars? Dr. Susan Watkins at Cor­nell Univer­sity re­ported that there are two chances in three that the neck size of a man’s shirt is too small, and his neck­tie too tight.

Her study in­volved 94 whitecol­lar males. Re­searchers first mea­sured the cir­cum­fer­ence of their necks with the col­lars but­toned and the ties knot­ted. The neck mea­sure­ment was then re­peated with the col­lars un­but­toned and the ties loos­ened. Watkins dis­cov­ered that 67 per cent were buy­ing shirts with col­lars that were smaller than the size of their necks.

Dr. Watkins claims that this tight­ness is caus­ing more than dis­com­fort. It’s also trig­ger­ing vis­ual prob­lems that can be sci­en­tif­i­cally proven. For in­stance, men were asked to tell re­searchers when a light, flick­er­ing at in­creased speeds, ap­peared to be con­stant. The tight-col­lar wear­ers were found to have poorer vis­ual dis­crim­i­na­tion those than those who pur­chased the right neck size.

I could not find any re­search that ex­plained why so many males bought shirts with col­lars that were too tight. Maybe it’s a more ma­cho look. But good sense dic­tates that the con­stant pres­sure on jugu­lar veins im­ped­ing the flow of blood from the brain is not a healthy sit­u­a­tion. Nor is it pru­dent to de­crease the flow of oxy­genated blood in carotid ar­ter­ies to the brain. So my ad­vice is to for­get about Har­vard doc­tors that are un­able to make this sim­ple di­ag­no­sis. But if you need a new shirt and are in At­lantic City, seek the young sales­man. I’m sure he will tell you that it’s pru­dent to be able to in­sert two fin­gers be­tween the neck and but­toned col­lar.

But what about man’s best friend? How many re­al­ize that dogs can also de­velop glau­coma? Vet­eri­nar­i­ans at the univer­sity of Madison-Wis­con­sin re­ported that tight dog col­lars in­creased op­tic pres­sure. They too sug­gested the two-fin­ger test and to re­move your pet’s col­lar at day’s end.

What’s good for hu­mans is also good for dogs.

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